Hospitals and Vehicles

When I tell you my littlest sister hit a patch of ice, spun out of control and rolled her car into a nearby field, my woes will seem a little less impressive. This past week has been a flurry of hospital visits, snowy conditions, and new cars.

It snowed in North Carolina last week. I didn’t even know it was coming until that afternoon when my colleague kept standing in my doorway muttering to herself while staring out of my window. Unfortunately, this is all too common a practice if there has even been a whiff of bad weather on the news. She looks at the sky, checks the state of the wind, mutters about the time and her commute, and threatens to call her husband to pick her up and drive her home. On this particular occasion, she was also being teased by others in the office. Taunts of “here comes the blizzard” and “wow, look at all the white stuff coming down” were being shouted across the room. It wasn’t until several hours later that any white stuff did come down.

I made arrangements with my playmate to move our rehearsal forward so she wouldn’t be driving to Raleigh through the worst of it. I didn’t cancel any of my plans, I still anticipated driving to work in the morning (even though I am less than ecstatic about my job, I still have a tiny bit of work ethic). By 8:00 that evening we had a nice inch of powder hiding the imperfections of the parking lot. When I walked in the door, I was greeted enthusiastically by the princess schmitten so I picked her up and dropped her in the snow to see what she would make of it. She sniffed it, licked it, licked it some more, and then with a look of disdain that can only be accomplished by a feline, she squeaked at me and shuffled back into the house, shaking each paw the second it lifted off the wet ground.

The scene was pretty much the same the next morning. There was a little bit of ice which made it difficult to get up the hill, but for the most part the roads were drivable and the rest of the state had decided that today was not a day to work so they were fairly empty as well. Temperatures rose throughout the day melting most of our winter weather. But as soon as the sun went down, the temperatures plummeted.

If you live in a state where snow is typical, then the people of the South sound kind of ridiculous with our complaints. But you must remember that where snow is typical, so also is the equipment and resources to handle it. When snow is not typical, the 3 plows available in the state have to be allocated to the most crucial areas. And though we can produce tobacco and pickles like a boss, we somehow cannot produce enough salt to melt the ice and snow.

I made it to work just fine, but the trip home was slightly more treacherous. The street leading into my neighborhood had fallen victim to the freezing temperatures and was now a solid sheet of ice. But I was already too far in before I realized. I slowed as best I could, but didn’t slow down fast or soon enough and so I slid. I’m not ashamed to admit that it was kind of fun, like sledding with a really big protective sled. No one was out so I wasn’t in danger of running over anyone, I was headed away from the parked cars, and I simply was not going fast enough to cause any real harm if I were to hit something. Or so I thought. I slid my front passenger side into the curb, felt embarrassed, corrected, and slid quite nicely into my parking space. Thankfully, I was curious to see if I had scrapes or dings so I walked around the front of the car to investigate and heard the sickening hiss of air escaping. I had somehow popped my tire. In the 15 minutes of daylight left, despite the freezing cold and loss of feeling in my fingers, my husband and I put on the toy tire and got ready for our respective rehearsals.

I drove on that toy tire another day. I have a nasty habit of misplacing my wallet and remembered too late that it was in the pocket of my other coat so there was nothing to be done. Imagine my disappointment when I left my office and walked to my car only to find that my spare tire had gone flat. “It’s 10 years old! How long did you expect it to last?” I melted faster than the snow. It turned out all five tires needed to be replaced. As I drove off with shiny new tires on my rusted out heap of junk, reading messages that my father had purchased himself a new car, I started day dreaming about the day I get to experience the joy of car shopping again. 2 more years. Will I be looking for a pick-up, a zippy racer, or a family van?

In the meantime, my littlest sister was having CAT scans and X-Rays to make sure her action movie reenactment hadn’t caused any significant damage to her person. Her car, of course, was totaled. It turned out that she would be fine, some significant soreness, some slight bruising, and some massive headaches (including her purchase of a new car) were to be expected, but other than the emotional damage, she would be ok.

Of course, that was mostly forgotten when the texts starting flying that another sister was experiencing her own hospital visit. This one for much different reasons. The first text came through at 7:30am, she was headed to the hospital. By lunchtime, I was an auntie for a third time. They too were hit with winter weather conditions in an area even less prepared for them and given our familial vehicular difficulties, I figuratively held my breath from 7:30 until the communication came through that they made it to the hospital accident free.

Monday – baby sister in a horrible car accident which she amazingly walked away from. Thursday – welcoming a new baby to the family. I’ll take your lesson January 2014! Look out family I am making time for everyone this year. Prepare your spare rooms!

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